WE APPLAUD: Palm Beach County Schools Takes Issue With Florida Standards Assessment

News Palm Beach County Schools

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Our view is simply put: standardized testing is a horrible and anxiety inducing way to determine how children are learning in school. And it sure seems that new Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa doesn’t disagree.
Here is a media released transmitted today by the Palm Beach County School District — we applaud the message.

The Florida Standards Assessment – and the state’s high-stakes accountability system – continues to concern leaders with the School District of Palm Beach County, despite a study upholding the validity of the state-mandated assessment test.
Those concerns include questions about the test’s administration, particularly the computer-based portion of the assessment; the alignment of Florida’s standards with the questions that appear on the test; and the use of Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) scores to evaluate the performance of students, teachers and schools.
“We appreciate the state’s review of the test. However, the results of the study have not changed the feelings of teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders throughout Florida,” said Palm Beach County School Board Chairman Chuck Shaw. “Fundamental issues remain with Florida’s accountability system that must be addressed by the Legislature.”
More than 90 percent of stakeholders who responded to a community survey conducted by the District last year supported delaying the use of FSA results to determine school grades, student promotion, graduation, or for teacher evaluation.
The District’s in-depth review of the state’s 186-page validity study, released Tuesday, raises significant questions about the FSA, including:
  • Lack of alignment between the Florida Standards Assessment and what is taught in the classroom. For example, the validation study shows that for the Grade 3 English Language Arts test, 33 percent of test items were not aligned to state standards. On the Grade 10 ELA test, 20 percent of the test questions did not align to state standards.
  • Problems with computer-based testing underlies the need for a phased implementation of these tests. In March, the School District delayed computer-based testing for two days after students were unable to log into the state’s portal due to technical issues with the vendor. A phased implementation would allow more time for the state and school districts to work out potential issues with computer-based tests, and eliminate the delays and loss of instructional time that were experienced in the last school year.
  • Use of FSA results to evaluate teacher and school performance. Some classes may have been disproportionately affected by test administration issues, but since there is not a reliable way to measure those effects, results for those schools or classrooms would be skewed. Teachers and schools should not be judged on their performance if the test’s administration had serious system issues affecting a significant number of schools.
“Assessments are a valuable tool, but the way we are administering them in Florida needs to change,” said Superintendent Robert M. Avossa, Ed.D. “The Legislature needs to take a hard look at how often they are testing students, and how those assessments align with what is being taught in our classrooms.”
Even before problems emerged with the FSA, the School District of Palm Beach County and the School Board have sounded the alarm against too many tests and the high-stakes nature of the assessments. School District leaders last year reduced the number of district-required assessments to lessen the burden on students, and the School Board in September passed a resolution on accountability that called on state leaders to delay the use of FSA results in determining student promotion, graduation or for teacher evaluation.


Paul Saperstein


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